Image by locusolus via Flickr
(What a simple blog title I’ve chosen today)
Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with BlogOhBlog recently, and its owner Jai Nischal Verma, and that’s why my new theme is taking a bit longer than I was expecting. For now, I’m using the WordPress default, which is quite nice and error free.
Originally, I was randomly checking out different themes for the site. I really liked the Blamatic theme, but it had a number of big errors, so I wanted to find someone who could help fix it. Stumbling upon BlogOhBlog.com, I contacted Jai Nischal Verma, who quoted me a price of $75 for my requirements. A few days later, I had some additional requirements, for which he then quoted me a new price of $100.
In the end, he finished perhaps less than half the work; it looked great on FireFox and Opera, but was trash on every version of Internet Explorer, which is still over 70% of the world.
Here was the last round of emails:
Regarding the widgets issue in Firefox, the issue is not caused by the widgets. If you looked at the screenshot, you would understand what I mean.
My requirements were clear, and I was upfront about them. For example, the requirement clearly asks for fixing of all bugs and standards compliance. If there were any issues about how difficult the tasks were, you should have brought that up when you issued the quote, or perhaps even midway, when you realized the requirements were difficult. What happened, however, was that you turned in the work twice, saying you had completed all the tasks, but in fact had not. And then when I asked about the tasks that had not been completed, you said they were too difficult or impossible and that you were done with the project.
What you have left me, then, is an unusable theme. I am certainly not going to use a theme that only works for 20% of the world. Now, I will need to find someone else to start over on the project.
If you are not going to finish this project, then I expect my money back, as an incomplete project has absolutely no value to me. I have switched the theme for the site.
From: Jai Nischal Verma
Sent: Sunday, April 12, 2009 10:20 PM
Subject: Re: Custom Order from BOB
I am sorry to say but the theme blamatic has too many issues. It uses sifr library to render your header titles in flash (try and right click on your header titles and you will know or your blog title) which can cause rendering errors in IE so I cannot really help it. According to my advise, you should just trash the theme or should have done it by now. Your choice.
I will not make any more changes as I have done enough fixing for $100. Plus you keep ranting about widgets issues. Dude, I am not responsible for fixing your widgets as you can install 100 other plugins and complain about their widgets.
Right after I received his email, I noticed he had gone in my site (he had FPT and Admin access) and started deleting things from my site, (think about how scary that is), including his work, so I had to cancel his accounts.
I don’t doubt that Jai is a very skilled and intelligent guy- I tried to look up negative feedback on him before I contracted him, and nothing came up, so that had made me feel confident going with him originally. His website is nice and you can learn a lot about design and WordPress from him. Overall, he seemed trustworthy. Unfortunately, at least for my situation, he was not. I paid him $35 of the $100 up front, with the rest due at completion.
The big issue was not so much that he didn’t complete the project, but that he lied about it. He twice said all the requirements (that he had accepted and were laid out for him clearly- he could have asked for more detail if they were not) had been completed, and I had to basically call him out and show examples of the errors still left. Am I supposed to believe that he didn’t know about the errors? That he didn’t know it was completely broken in IE, among numerous other errors and incomplete tasks, yet still asked for the full $100 both times?
When I called him out on the incomplete work, he started to say how X requirement was too difficult or Y requirement was creating the problems, that my “unprofessionalism” was to blame, and he refused to do any more. Some of the things he did finish, were things I could have done myself (and have in other themes), but that’s why I had asked for a quote on the full package of fixes, so I could let a professional do his magic and so I wouldn’t have to worry and spend my own time.
Incidentally, in the e-mail above, Jai blames the sIFR library for his inability to fix the theme, but sIFR themselves claim otherwise (see left for IE6+ compatibility): “Of course sIFR degrades gracefully when used in an non-supported browser: the default HTML text will be shown."; “sIFR is supported by the following browsers: IE6 and above.”
Perhaps after he started, he learned my requirements were too difficult for him, or he had underestimated them. He tried to lie about it and blame me instead of being upfront and saying, “I made a mistake in the quotation, can we renegotiate this?” or “This is causing some issues, can we do it this way so that I can make it fit your requirements? I would have listened and found a compromise with him.
But he didn’t. Now I have an unusable theme and lost time (anyone who’s had to audit someone else’s work knows how time consuming it is) and $35 in the process.
This really sucks and some other words not fit for this blog.
If I’ve learned anything from working the last few years is that you have to be really careful when working on projects with outside partners, regardless if you’re the client or the contractor. I’m really glad I only paid $35 up front. Normally, I’m used to paying in full with Internet transactions, like on EBay, but I thought I should ask for a tiered payment just because I knew how projects can go. Trying to imagine if I had paid the full $100 and had this happen, I would have gone absolutely berserk.
Some people think that if you do some work, you should automatically get credit for it. For example, you ordered Pho at my restaurant, but I was out, so I decided to give you Bun Bo Hue without asking you and letting you know that I was out. I gave you something, it may not be what you ordered, but you got something. So now you should pay me the price of the Pho. Right?
Avoid BlogOhBlog and Jai Nischal Verma. He may be capable of doing good work, but as I learned unfortunately, it’s a gamble to see if he will take responsibility for his work commitment.
If you’re considering him and you’d like to learn more about what happened, feel free to comment or ask me. I’m more than happy to forward the email thread and let you judge for yourself.
Time for me to look for another coder.